“Why don’t you make the dishes your mom makes?” is a question I get from Lipby every time we come home from a dinner at my parents’. My mom is a great cook, and a hard act to follow. Her Japanese dishes always elicit a sigh from me when I taste them– it’s comfort food, and it makes me feel cared for.
I can cook many of the dishes my mom makes, but a lot of them are time-intensive– she is retired and can make the elaborate meals, but for me, with a full-time job and other activities, I find it hard to have the time. But, when I can, I can cook washoku that evokes my mom’s taste.
Iridoufu means “boiled (and seasoned) tofu.” My mom makes this as one of the many side dishes for dinner. Here, I’ve made it as a main dish by putting it on top of rice, making it a donburi.
Tofu is just another ingredient in much of Asian cooking, not as a substitute for meat as it is often done in the West. You’ll see that this recipe calls for bacon, and the tofu readily takes on the flavor. You can make this vegetarian, of course, by omitting it (and vegan by omitting the egg), but you may want to add some of the water that the dried shiitake mushrooms soaked in to add more flavor if you do.
These are from my notes in a phone call to my mom a while back. I’ve noted my changes.
Serves about 4 as a side dish
1 block firm tofu
2 slices bacon, cut into small pieces
6 green beans, trimmed and cut in half, if long (I use a small handful)
1 carrot, peeled, cut into matchsticks
4 good-sized dried shiitake, soaked in hot water until soft, then cut into strips (you can use fresh, but dried has more intense flavor)
1 egg, beaten
3 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons mirin
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar (this is too sweet for me– I’d knock it back to 1 tablespoon or less)
dash salt & pepper
In a large saucepan, boil water. Crumble the tofu into the boiling water, cook for about 30 seconds, then strain out onto a dish or a bowl.
Fry the bacon in a frying pan until cooked but not crispy, remove. Fry the vegetables in the bacon fat until soft, remove. Scramble the egg in the pan, then add the vegetables, tofu, bacon, soy sauce, mirin, sugar, salt & pepper. Stir until heated through. Serve warm.